Wed, Dec 11, 2019
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Willapa Harbor Herald • Town Crier
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Local food bank to add restaurant and thrift store in Downtown Winlock

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Chuck Sonner (right), organizer of the Winlock-Vader Food Bank, describes the future layout of the restaurant and thrift store the food bank plans to open June 1 at a vacant storefront at 503 First St., in Downtown Winlock. Volunteers Glen Cook (center), who also owns the building, Jim Decker (left) were on hand that day to assist in renovations.

The Winlock-Vader Food Bank has announced they will be expanding their offerings to the community through a new restaurant and thrift store scheduled to open June 1.

Located just above the food bank's current location at the corner of First St. and Fir St., in Downtown Winlock, the venue will be intended to provide eating and shopping options for area residents, as well as additional funding for the program.

"We lost a revenue source when they closed the Catholic church," said Food Bank coordinator Chuck Sonner, referencing the closure of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in March of 2014, from whom the food bank had received significant financial support. "Last year, our revenue was up. This year, it's way down...I'd like to buy more food, at a reasonable rate, so I can give out more at the food bank."

Sonner said the opportunity to move into the new space became available at the beginning of March, after the previous tenant vacated, adding the food bank has received significant support for their project from building owner Glen Cook.

"Glen is doing more than any one person," said Sonner, pointing out shelving and building materials made available by Cook, who owns True Value Hardware just up the block, as well as time spent helping with renovations.

Cook said his business has been a regular supporter of the food bank during the last there decades, and said he feels confident the volunteers' new venture will be successful.

"I think [Sonner's] got a good business plan laid out there," said Cook, adding he believes the food bank will prove to be a responsible tenant.

Of their intent for the restaurant and thrift store, Sonner said the food bank's goal is simple: to provide needed services otherwise not available to the community.

"We wanted a place where people could come in, have a cup of coffee, meet their friends," said Sonner of the restaurant end of the business, which he said will serve breakfast and lunch and include items such as sandwiches, soup and baked goods.

The thrift store, stated Sonner, was inspired partly by Sacks First Avenue, a second-hand shop located for a number of years at the same storefront, stating he feels their business model must have been successful if they were able to remain open for such a period of time. He added the thrift store is also meant to provide household supplies for those impacted by disasters such as the fire that burned down a home in Winlock in February, stating he intends to give vouchers to local churches, who can then give them to families in need, for use at the store.

"That's what we're here for, to help the community," he said of the food bank, stating current volunteer opportunities exist to help renovate the storefront, as well as help operate the thrift store once it opens.

Sonner said community members seeking to donate to the thrift store may also do so at this time, as storage space is available for donations until the store opens. He added local artisans may also contribute their wares for sale on consignment, with the food bank intending to collect a nominal commission from the sale of such items.

Those with donations are encouraged to drop them off at the food bank during regular hours on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Specifically, the food bank is seeking donations of coat hangers for the thrift store and an espresso machine for the restaurant. Once open, the new storefront is expected to operate Tuesday through Saturday from the morning to the early afternoon.

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